Affordable housing

A proposed pocket neighbourhood could help to provide some homes at more modest prices.

For years, the topic of affordable housing has been discussed in Summerland, but the price of owning or renting a home here remains high.

The proposed pocket neighbourhood, at the site of the former Summerland RCMP detachment, could help to provide some homes at more modest prices.

With a supply of lower priced housing, Summerland could attract workers who would otherwise reject this community as unaffordable.

Businesses which have had difficulty attracting a labour pool would also benefit from some more affordable housing. Without a labour pool available locally, it becomes difficult to attract or retain businesses which could benefit the entire community.

Even those who would prefer no population increase should see the benefits in having some affordable housing developments, to accommodate those who provide the various services we need.

According to the assessment figures released earlier this year by B.C. Assessment, the average assessed value of a home in Summerland was $419,000 — considerably higher than in other communities in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. The average home in Penticton was valued at $372,000. In Oliver, the average value was $300,000 and in Osoyoos, it was 364,000. At such prices, Summerland is at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting businesses and workers. When house prices increase, rent rates also tend to show an increase.

While there are some lower priced units in Summerland, including townhouses and condominium units, the majority of these are in age-restricted developments. For younger people and families, the cost of living in Summerland is higher than elsewhere in the region.

The proposed development is not enough to meet all of Summerland’s affordable housing needs, but it is a place to start.